What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is a voluntary, worldwide fellowship of people from all walks of life who meet together to attain and maintain sobriety. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership.¹

How A.A. Members Maintain Sobriety

A.A. is a program of total abstinence. Members simply stay away from one drink, one day at a time. Sobriety is maintained through sharing experience, strength and hope at group meetings and through the suggested Twelve Steps for recovery from alcoholism.¹

2014 Membership Survey: Members attend an average of 2.5 A.A. meetings per week.
Source: 2014 Membership Survey

Why Alcoholics Anonymous Is “Anonymous”

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of A.A. It disciplines the Fellowship to govern itself by principles rather than personalities. We are a society of peers. We strive to make known our program of recovery, not individuals who participate in the program. Anonymity in the public media is assurance to all A.A.s, especially to newcomers, that their A.A. membership will not be disclosed. ¹

The Importance of Anonymity


Traditionally, A.A. members have al­ways taken care to preserve their anonymity at the “public” level: press, radio, television, and films; today this extends to the Internet and digital technologies.

In the early days of A.A., when more stigma was attached to the term “alcoholic” than is the case today, this reluctance to be identified — and publicized — was easy to understand.

As the Fellowship of A.A. grew, the positive values of anonymity were apparent.


First, we know from experience that many problem drinkers might hesitate to turn to A.A. for help if they thought their problem might be discussed pub­licly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Fellowship.

Spiritual Significance

Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us — that it discourages the drives for personal rec­ognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some soci­eties. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with alcoholics might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.

While each member of A.A. is free to make his or her own interpretations of A.A. tradition, no individual member is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for himself or herself. ²

Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

  • The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.
  • A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes.
  • Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Copyright © by AA Grapevine, Inc.; reprinted with permission.

¹ Reprinted from (A.A. at a Glance…, page 2), with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

² Reprinted from (A.A. Fact File…, pages 6-7), with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.